JRR Tolkien is a world-renowned author of Hobbit and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ series, one of the most popular fantasy series in English literature. Tolkien’s literary work has endured for decades, beloved among readers both young and old.
Tolkien was born as John Ronald Reuel Tolkien on 3rd January, 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. His family moved back to England when Tolkien was about three years old.
Tolkien lost his parents early; his father died in South Africa, and his mother succumbed to diabetes when he was 12, after which Tolkien and his brother became wards of a Catholic priest.
Tolkien studied Classics, Old English, and Germanic languages at Exeter college, Oxford University. It was then that he started creating new languages, as he had quite a talent for philology.
Tolkien is credited with creating 9 new scripts and 20 new languages, each language having its own distinct grammar and vocabulary.
World War 1
By the time Tolkien had graduated from Oxford in 1915, World War I was in full swing. Tolkien who had delayed his enlistment in the army due to studies, joined the British army in 1915 as a second lieutenant.
Tolkien’s participation in World War 1 ended in October 1916 when he contracted trench fever, a form of typhus-like infection common in the insanitary conditions during the World war.
Many of his close friends died in the war and Tolkien himself would have been killed many a times if he was not taken off from the front lines due to trench foot, which he contracted multiple times.
Tolkien’s first civilian job was at the New English Dictionary, where he worked on the history and etymology of words of Germanic origin. He then joined the University of Leeds faculty as a Reader in English Language and became the youngest professor there.
In 1925, he returned to Oxford with a fellowship at Pembroke College. At Oxford, Tolkien developed a close friendship with writers C. S. Lewis and Charles Williams. The trio who came to be known as the Inklings would spend their time discussing literary and religious issues with other writers.
Lord of the Rings
It was while grading a student’s paper at Pembroke College, Oxford that Tolkien wrote down the sentence, “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.” In order to find out what exactly a Hobbit was, Tolkien wrote a story about a creature who lived in Middle-Earth. This story was published by the British firm of Allen & Unwin in 1937 as The Hobbit.
The Hobbit was such a success that Tolkien’s publisher asked him to write a sequel, which turned into the Lord of the Rings series: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. The books were hugely successful, especially after their paperback release.
Tolkien died at age 82 in 1973, but his legacy continues through his epic fantasy series, which continues to captivate readers today and is likely to do so in future.
The Lord of the Rings series has sold over 100 million copies since its publication. The series has been adapted into award-winning films directed by Peter Jackson.